Pep Guardiola hailed Yaya Toure as being in better condition than ever before after welcoming the veteran midfielder back into his trophy-chasing team on Saturday.
Toure made his first Premier League start of the season, after a very lengthy absence, having failed to meet Guardiola’s exacting fitness standards at the start of the season. Toure is finally back in the first team fold at City, and is understood to feel fully fit and injury-free for the first time in two years.
Guardiola has known Toure for some time, having coached him at Barcelona back in the 2008-09 season, eight years ago. After seeing him score twice against Crystal Palace, Guardiola said that the 33-year-old was in the shape of his life after finally winning his place back. Now Guardiola wants Toure to be a big part in City’s push for silverware.
“Yaya was, for the last two months, training really well,” Guardiola said. “His physical condition is better than ever. I'm so happy for him and his family. He's now a real part of the team and can help us achieve our targets. We need this kind of player. The Premier League, Champions League and Cups are so demanding.”
Guardiola rested John Stones and Ilkay Gundogan, only bringing David Silva on late in the second half. Those three are now set to start at Borussia Monchengladbach next week, as Guardiola shuffles his pack. He was delighted to record a crucial three points without some of his most important players.
“[Gundogan and Stones] were so, so tired,” Guardiola said. “They played 90 minutes in the national team, with travel. They are fit, and that's the important thing. But in this league, with competitions around the world, you want to arrive at the end of the season fighting. They needed a rest.”
Alan Pardew rued defensive mistakes as he admitted that his Palace team are now under pressure. “The priority for us is getting points on the board,” he said. “We rather gifted City the goals today with mistakes at the first goal and the set-up not completed at the corner. We have to do better. We have some players in form, our midfield three in particular, and our centre-halves looked better. I'm just disappointed we didn't take something from the game.”
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